Disclaimer (before even writing this entry): These are my personal views, I understand some client's don't have the budget, and I am sorry if I offend anyone.
I have just went through two long meetings the past two days (yes on Sunday, as well). These meetings were about how to properly build search engine friendly e-commerce sites. A lot of what my company does is build Web sites that empower the customer to build SE Friendly pages (much like how this blog works, but a tad more sophisticated :)).
To my amazement, one of these companies used a fairly well known SEO Firm that, in my opinion, built the site wrong. When building an e-commerce site from scratch, why would you not ensure that the pages are search engine friendly. Each and every one. By search engine friendly I mean, that each individual page is optimized for a unique keyword. So each category landing page, is optimized for that category. Each product or brand page, is optimized for the product or brand.
I can understand where an SEO firm will take an existing site and make tweaks to it in order to optimize some of the pages. That makes sense to me. But to build a site from ground up and then only apply the the principles of SEO and dynamic content to a few hand selected pages, that in my opinion is wrong.
I will of course not mention the company here. It leads me to believe that many other SEO firms are practicing SEO in this manner. I feel its wrong to pitch a search engine friendly e-commerce site that in reality has to be maintained through manual intervention by an SEO.
Automation! Build a system that allows your customer to build pages. They really don't need to know much about SEO. All they need to know is about their product, and if they know their product, they can write very good copy for their product pages.
Empower the customer through simple to use web tools, educate the customer about search engines, and let the customer be in control!